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Rob's Top Ten Movies of 2001


 

#10: Series 7: The Contenders

Daniel Minahan's dead-on shot at "reality television" eclipses most of the entries in the overworked subgenre of media satires, and offers a first-rate performance by Brooke Smith as a pregnant, undefeated Contender.

 

#9: Hannibal

Forget the critics -- the return of Hannibal Lecter was good news for anyone starved for great movie villains. Ridley Scott delivered a stylish, Argento-flavored Jacobean riff worthy of the esteemed doctor from Baltimore.

 

#8: The Man Who Wasn't There

Billy Bob Thornton is the hilariously deadpan immobile center of the Coens' latest homage to the way Hollywood used to make 'em.

 

#7: Memento

Does it all click together? Who cares? Assured storytelling and pitch-perfect work from the three leads made this the most satisfying puzzle movie since The Usual Suspects.

 

#6: The Royal Tenenbaums

Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson give us yet another quirky, finely drawn study of lives of quiet desperation. If you're not a fan of Rushmore, beware; if you are, jump right in.

 

#5: Amores Perros

Or, "the Mexican Pulp Fiction" -- it has three interconnected stories, and its brutal reputation (specifically, its realistically faked scenes of dogfighting) precedes it, yet it's far more gentle and thoughtful than it appears at first glance. A brilliant debut by director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, whose name you'll be hearing again, if there's any justice.

 

#4: Mulholland Drive

It goes pretty wacky near the end, but what else did you expect from a David Lynch movie? Even when the film hurtles off the rails of narrative, Lynch's dream logic holds you fast.

 

#3: Ginger Snaps

Criminally overlooked, this is the finest horror movie in many years, with performances by Katharine Isabella (as a surly teen who runs afoul of a werewolf) and Emily Perkins (as her younger but smarter sister) that deserve to be career-making.

 

#2: Waking Life

Richard Linklater's fanciful dreambook is about people who live in their heads, and at the end the director himself speaks for the importance of getting out of one's head and waking up into life. Fantastic eye candy with zesty, sometimes arguable philosophy at its center, this all-talk wonder reminds you of what movies can do best.

 

#1: Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Possibly the most audacious multiple-hat directorial debut since Citizen Kane. Yes, I really did just say that -- and Orson Welles didn't sing. John Cameron Mitchell brings his off-Broadway hit to the big screen with nary a hitch, crafting a balls-to-the-wall glam-punk-rock musical with moments of great wit and great pathos. I can't ask for much more from a movie.


HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Peter Jackson's conscientious and exciting The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring; the loopy, fascinating Vanilla Sky; the grim, intense From Hell; the charming Bridget Jones's Diary; the surprisingly entertaining A Knight's Tale; the brilliantly cast The Score; Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast; Jack Nicholson in Sean Penn's compelling The Pledge; the exuberant self-valentine Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back; Alejandro Amenabar's moody The Others; the somber and worthwhile O; Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes remix, which was fun enough and didn't deserve such venom; and the better-than-they-had-to-be kiddie adventures Spy Kids and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.


SPECIAL HONORABLE MENTION

 
Tom Green's Freddy Got Fingered, the most unfairly savaged movie of this or perhaps any year. I'm not even a Tom Green fan, and I enjoyed it for what it was -- a self-consciously twisted psychotherapy session. The "Daddy, would you like some sausage" bit still kills me; Rip Torn is a towering obscene comedy giant here, as always; and the sweetly libidinous presence of Marisa Coughlan -- the definition of "good sport" -- gentles the sick shenanigans and lends them some hint of feeling. Give it a chance on video.


Rob's Top Ten WORST Movies of 2001

 

#10: 15 Minutes

A callous, callow blowhard movie trying too hard to be a "biting media satire." Of course it also plays by all the Hollywood rules, thus becoming part of the problem.

 

#9: Valentine

What was this, the twenty-fourth reminder of why slasher movies died in the '80s? This had no business being anything other than a USA Original Movie.

 

#8: Say It Isn't So

The Farrelly brothers (who produced it and let their buddies write and direct it) came a cropper with this aggressively puerile farce that committed the gravest of bad-taste sins: it flirted with a taboo (incest) only to back away from it. John Waters, where are you when we really need you?

 

#7: K-PAX

Kevin Spacey wants to hug us all and make it better. Blech. Put a gun in his hand and let him be a brilliant snake again.

 

#6: Hearts in Atlantis

More bitter than bittersweet, this gaseous nostalgia piece shilled for our emotions by making Anthony Hopkins a noble psychic pursued by shadowy forces. They take far too long to catch up to him.

 

#5: Serendipity

Or, how you can guiltlessly dump the person you're engaged to if you happen to meet someone you randomly met six years ago.

 

#4: Monkeybone

We expected better from Henry Selick, who gave form to Tim Burton's dreams in Nightmare Before Christmas; we certainly didn't expect a juvenile paean to flatulence and tumescence.

 

#3: Ghosts of Mars

Very possibly the worst thing John Carpenter will ever have his name on, unless he inscribes his signature onto cow flop. Then again, he already has.

 

#2: Pearl Harbor

Thankfully we were spared a rousing post-September 11 re-release of this big fat anthem, but even back in May its adrenalized action-movie treatment of the day that lives in infamy, sandwiched by vast thick wedges of hackneyed romance, was in the worst imaginable taste.

 

#1: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Angelina, Angelina, Angelina -- you won the Oscar; that means you don't have to do this sort of thing any more, okay? Too many more logs like this and you'll have to give the award back, I fear.


DISHONORABLE MENTIONS:
The only-in-it-for-the-money Jurassic Park III; David Mamet's curiously lifeless Heist; Stallone's latest bid for continued worship, Driven; Ivan Reitman's Evolution, which suffered in comparison to Ghostbusters in every conceivable way; the empty star vehicle The Mexican; Soderbergh's hollow Ocean's Eleven; Baz Luhrmann's typically overwrought Moulin Rouge; and the worse-than-it-should've-been Training Day.


SPECIAL DISHONORABLE MENTION

 
Steven Spielberg's A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, which could've been insanely great but instead went into a 150-minute free-fall, with the most awful non-ending in recent memory. Somewhere, Kubrick is either holding his head in anguish or cackling at the whippersnapper's folly.


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